Happy 98th Birthday Les Paul

Les Paul's 98th BirthdayHappy 98th Birthday Les Paul

Born on June 09, 2013, in Waukesha, Wisconsin, today marks the 98th birthday of Les Paul (Lester William Polsfuss).  On August 13, 2009, Les Paul passed away from complications associated with pneumonia at a hospital in White Plains, New York. Les died with his family and friends by his side.


Who was Les Paul?

Les Paul was a musician, songwriter and inventor. He was also one of the pioneers of the solid-body electric guitar – making the sound of rock & roll as we know it possible.


Waukesha’s Dedication to Les Paul

  • In an effort to show thanks and preserve his vibrant legacy, the city of Waukesha – the birth and resting place of Les Paul – has become a Gibson “GuitarTown”.  Dubbed the “Walking Tour”, Waukesha GuitarTown features Giant 10-foot tall and playable Gibson Les Paul guitars, as well as murals located throughout downtown Waukesha. (FREE)
  • In addition to GuitarTown, the permanent “Les Paul Experience” exhibit opens today at the Waukesha County Museum.  See rare guitars and artifacts that belonged to Les Paul and learn about the amazing story of Les Paul. (Tickets Required)
  • In 2009 Les Paul was laid to rest next to his mother at the Prairie Home Cemetery where a monument was constructed.The 500 square feet of granite includes the image of a 1952 Gibson Les Paul guitar, surrounded by a biography of the legendary guitar player and inventor, and a listing of his major awards.


Visit, Explore, and Pay your Respects

With June 9th being Les Paul’s birthday, why not come and see all the historical attractions dedicated to our hometown guitar legend. Visit downtown Waukesha and take a glimpse at the legacy of Les Paul. While you’re at it, stop by the monument and pay your respects to the man who lives on in the great city of Waukesha!

Celebration to Honor 97th Birthday of Les Paul

This coming Friday, Saturday and Sunday, the 31st of May, 2012 through the 2nd of June, 2012 is a long awaited project for many people in Waukesha, and perhaps even people throughout the nation and world.

Dubbed “Les Paul’s Birthday Party” because his birthday is the 9th of June, 1915, the Waukesha Guitar Town Project is ready to launch.  The stage is set, the guitars have been designed and finished with clear coat, and many musicians and fans of Les Paul are anxious to see the beautiful pieces of art and celebrate the memory and legend of Les Paul in his home town of Waukesha.
In case you have not seen it yet, the schedule of events planned for this three day celebration is included below.  Also,

I was actually kind of sad to read a recent post by Brien Lee in which he states that he has encountered lots of people around Waukesha who know little or nothing about the Guitar Town Project, or Les Paul’s birthday party.  Sad, actually, that something this monumental can go unheard of by any Waukesha citizen.  And I would agree with Brien that despite the current proposed guitar locations, at least one of the guitars should be strategically placed near one of the bypasses to catch the eye of passersby.  See the current map of the Waukesha Guitar Town Guitar Locations.

Les Paul’s Birthday Party Schedule:

Thursday, 31 May, 2012

235 W. Broadway
Waukesha, WI 53186
5:30 – 9:00 p.m.

Waukesha Gibson Guitar Town will be holding a private gala to unveil the guitars to the Gibson Corporation, sponsors of the guitars,  and community supporters.  This event is private.


Friday, 01 June, 2012

1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Club 400 owner Dan Pokwinski to share and discuss Club 400’s Les Paul memorabilia.

1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Rusty Paul, son of Les Paul will be at Les Paul memorial site at Prairie Home Cemetery to share memories and answer questions about his father.

11:30 – 1:00 p.m.
Lunch & Learn with Bob Jacobson, author of the book Les Paul Guitar Wizard to be at the Waukesha County Museum. $8 admission includes lunch, opportunity for book signing and discussion on book (book cost additional). Pre-registration required by May 31st. To register, call 262-521-2859 ext. 224. Limited seating available.

5:30 p.m.
Opening ceremony for Waukesha Gibson GuitarTown – unveiling of 10 ft guitars and 17 playable guitars will be on display at their final locations in downtown Waukesha.

6:00 p.m.
Les Paul Trio to play on the big main stage set up in downtown Waukesha

6:30 – 8:30 p.m.
Bob Jacobson, author of Les Paul Guitar Wizard, to sign books at Martha Merrell’s Books/Cuddles

6:45 p.m.
Freeman Friday Night Live launches it summer event in Waukesha, featuring six stages of live music.
Listen to some great live music at stages in the following locations:

  • Martha Merrell’s Books/Cuddles ▪ Mike & Kathy G-Man Music
  • Allo Chocolat ▪ Chad James & Mike Westendorf
  • Rockin’ & Poppin’ On Broadway Stage ▪ The Notebenders
  • Mia’s ▪ Peter D’Amore
  • Steaming Cup ▪ Barefoot “N” Bluejeans
  • Magellans ▪ Lonley Hearts

8:30 p.m.
Sam Llanas Band to play with former Buffalo Springfield music legend and Rock & Roll Hall of Famer Richie Furay and Rusty Paul on main stage in downtown Waukesha.


Saturday, 02 June, 2012

8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Waukesha Farmer’s Market will feature a Les Paul trivia and song tribute and limited edition collectors’ cards.

10:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
Bob Jacobson, author of Les Paul Guitar Wizard to be at the Waukesha County Museum booth at the Waukesha Farmer’s Market signing and discuss his book.

1:00 – 2:30 p.m.
Rusty Paul son of Les Paul will be at Les Paul Monument at Prairie Home Cemetery to share memories and answer questions about his father.

1:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Guided tour with artists.

1:00 – 7:00 p.m.
Live music in downtown Waukesha.

Happy Birthday Les

Les Paul's 97th Birthday Party Celebration in Waukesha

Foundation to Auction off Les Paul Guitars and More!

In an April 16, 2012 blog post, the Les Paul Foundation announced that in celebration of the anniversary of Les Paul’s 97th birthday, Les Paul guitars, equipment and personal items will be auctioned June 8-9 of 2012, with proceeds from the auction going to fund the Les Paul Foundation.

Items in the auction include equipment, memorabilia, personal effects and instruments from his early years, as well as his weekly performances at New York’s Iridium Jazz Club.

This auction is going to be an awesome and unique opportunity for both fans and collectors of Les Paul memorabilia to obtain these priceless gems that were once used by the late, great Les Paul.

The collection of Les Paul has been curated in part by Dave Belzer and Drew Berlin, collectively known as The Burst Brothers, two of the most respected and recognized vintage guitar authorities in the world today. Both Dave and Drew have always shared a love of “Bursts”, the nickname given to Gibson Les Paul Standards built between the years 1958 thru 1960, and it was their love of these guitars that eventually led to them becoming known as “The Burst Brothers”. Their extensive knowledge of vintage guitars and amps, combined with their passion for playing and their talent for finding rare guitars have made them a trustworthy and reliable resource in the vintage industry. Dave and Drew have been an intricate part of building the vintage guitar collection for the Les Paul Estate auction with Juilen’s Auctions of Beverly Hills.

Among the items for auction include:

1968 Prototype Gibson Les Paul Custom Recording Model

1968 Prototype Gibson Les Paul Custom Recording Model (Est. $60,000 – $80,000). White flat top with Bigsby tail piece and note in Paul’s hand reading, “Reward this is the property of Les Paul A.K.A. Lester William Polfuss…Mahwah, New Jersey USA…” The guitar is featured on page 350 of his autobiography Les Paul In His Own Words.


1951 Fender Nocaster serial number 1751


1951 Fender Nocaster serial number 1751 (Est. $40,000 – $60,000). Butterscotch with black pickguard, neck date “5-10-51 T.G.”, no body date, with original thermometer case. Guitar has replaced volume and one tone pot but originals are present. This guitar was personally gifted to Les Paul by Leo Fender who signed the back of the headstock “Leo Fender.” The guitar is uncharacteristically light weighing only 7.4 pounds.


1927 Gibson L-5 Sunburst Cremona serial number 87230
1927 Gibson L-5 Sunburst Cremona serial number 87230 (Est. $10,000 – $15,000) Hole drilled through the original pickguard, back re-finished, no original case. This is one of the two L-5s purchased by Les Paul, then going by the name Rhubarb Red, at Gibson in Kalamazoo Michigan with his friend and band mate Sunny Joe Wolverton in 1933. Paul discusses the trip and purchasing this guitar extensively in his autobiography. He later gave this guitar to a friend Dave Moran, who requested the guitar be returned to Paul upon his death.


1952 Gibson Les Paul Goldtop (Est. $14,000 – $16,000) No serial number, Trapeze tailpiece, tuners have been changed to Grover’s, patent pending with original case. This is one of the very first Les Paul guitars produced. The back of the headstock is hand signed, “Les Paul.” The guitar is pictured on page 238 of Paul’s autobiography Les Paul In His Own Words.


BCB-6 Pedal Effects In Case_Home of Les PaulBoss BCB-6 Pedal Effects In Case (Est. $3,000 – $5,000). Six Boss pedals including: chromatic tuner TU-2 white, super chorus ch-1 blue, digital delay DD3 silver, digital reverb/delay RV3 grey. The case also contains tools including a pair of Les Paul’s sunglasses and has all of his settings recorded on masking tape. This is the gigging case used by Les Paul during his weekly shows at both Fat Tuesdays and the Iridium Jazz Club for decades. 3 ½ by 25 by 11 inches and pictured above.


1955 Steinway & Sons Grand Model B in Ebony (Est. $20,000 – $30,000) Steinway & Sons serial number 348128 (Case #K1304 3035) New York Music Room grand model B piano from Les Paul’s legendary main recording studio in his home in Mahwah, New Jersey; this is the only piano used for recordings made in the house. Steinway records indicate that the piano was completed on August 22, 1955 and delivered to the home of Les Paul and Mary Ford in New Jersey on August 25, 1955.


Early 1970s Ampex MM1000 (Est. $3,000 – $5,000) Sixteen track recording machine using two inch tape, with custom VSO, serial number 260, with AC cable and side block. Has been re-built in good condition. This was the first Ampex sixteen track machine and is one of the most sought after sixteen track machines to this day. This machine was used in the downstairs recording studio at Les Paul’s Mahwah, New Jersey home. 65” x 41” x 27 ½ “.


Late 1960s API Recording Mixing Console (Est. $40,000 – $60,000) Twenty eight by sixteen console believed to be one of the first few made with the desirable configuration of twenty eight mic line input channels and sixteen buss. Originally a twenty-channel mixer with an eight-channel side car added later, three 12 point patch bay main console and 144 patch bay on side car. Modules include: five – 558 EQs, one – 550 EQ, four – 553 EQs, 9 – Aengus 8 band EQs, one – old school audio mic pre 580 series size, two – 525 compressors, one – 575 oscillators, one – talk back module, four – 553 EQs, sixteen buss VU meters, and an elaborate master section with buss and cue system. The board is made by Automated Processes Inc. of Farmingdale New York, one of the most notable American made mixing consoles. Original masking tape label with channel identifications in Les Paul’s hand including, “channel 1 Les Guitar.” 45 by 99 1/8 by 35 ½ inches.


Les Paul Touring RigLes Paul’s Touring Rig (Est. $5,000 – $7,000) Gibson LP1 guitar amplifier pre-amp controller serial number 1038. A prototype designed by Les Paul featuring Plexiglass panel on front with “Les Paul” two channel amplifier with a normal and box switch, crossover switch, ;vibrola switch. Les Paul’s markings in red nail polish indicated his settings on the knobs and Plexiglass panel. Additional tape markings reading Les Paul Road 1 and #1 pre-amp among others. Single fifteen Altec Lansing speaker with high frequency horn, power amp and Paulverizer attachment built into the cabinet. Topped with a Nakimichi 700, three head cassette player which Paul used to play along with pre-recorded tracks. This was Paul’s long-time tour rig and is featured on page 291 of his autobiography Les Paul In His Own Words. Sold together with a spare Nakamichi 700 and identical Altec Lansing single fifteen cabinet. Head 5 ½ by 21 by 15 Cabinet 24 by 24 by 15 inches.

The auction will be held on June 8th and 9th in Beverly Hills, California and will be managed by Julien’s Auctions.

More details about when the event goes live, and how to register to bid live or by phone can be seen by visiting Julien’s Auctions Beverly Hills Gallery.

Les Paul GuitarLes Paul blue


Guitar Town Project Swiftly Moving Foward

Artist Tom Noll was putting the finishing touches on a 10-foot-tall guitar sculpture last week, a brightly painted montage of a dozen rock and blues musicians, each playing a Gibson Les Paul.

Noll’s work is one of 30 big and small guitars that are the artistic centerpieces of a charitable fundraising effort called the Waukesha Guitar Town Project, in the place where guitar and musical innovator Les Paul was born and is buried.

Noll is an enthusiastic Guitar Town participant, an artist known locally as the rock ‘n’ roll musician painter who sells prints of his oil portraits worldwide. He’s also a Les Paul fan, having painted the Wizard of Waukesha earlier, a painting Paul autographed on one of his trips “home.”

“It was a natural,” Noll said about the guitar project. “What I love about it is it’s going to be public art.”

Guitar Town Project artist Tom Noll

Image coutesy of Michael Sears, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

When he lets his imagination run beyond the strokes of his paintbrush, he pictures himself on his Harley-Davidson riding down Waukesha’s Main St. and seeing his distinctive piece prominently displayed along the street.
Like Noll, nine other artists won commissions to turn oversize fiberglass guitars into public artworks for installation primarily in downtown Waukesha. Their completion deadline is May 15.

Twenty other artists turned in their artistically finished regulation-size Gibson Les Paul guitars last week.  They’ll be shipped Monday to the Gibson Guitar Corp., where hardware will be installed. The guitars will then be returned to Waukesha. The Gibson Foundation is behind the GuitarTown concept and a partner in it, having named seven other GuitarTown cities, from London to Los Angeles.

This story was reported by Laurel Walker of the Journal Sentinel.

Russ Les Paul, Jr., to Play at Guitar Town Waukesha Dedication Party

For many years downtown Waukesha has been host to dozens of outdoor musical shows during the summer as part of the Waukesha Freeman Friday Night Live.  Some of the downtown streets are blocked-off and musicians take the stage at various locations around Waukesha, cultivating their passion and soothing the ears of residents who adore the performances of many local bands and musicians.

Earlier this year Mayor Jeff Scrima contacted the Gibson Guitar Corporation and made a request that the city be recognized as “Guitar Town Waukesha,” in light of the fact that it is the hometown and resting place of the late great guitar legend, Les Paul.  Gibson agreed, and over the past couple of months the Waukesha Guitar Town Steering Committee has taken steps to quickly move things along.  Large and small guitars have been delivered to the city of Waukesha and are currently being decorated by artists. With proposed guitar town locations tentatively established, Gibson has agreed to throw a dedication party for the June 01, 2012 launch of the Waukesha Guitar Town project.

In an article by Sarah Pryor of the Waukesha Freeman, this past week Guitar Town Steering Committee member, Alderman Any Reiland, made an announcement at Thursday’s Common Council meeting that the Rusty Paul Band, the Les Paul Trio, and Sammy Llanas will headline the Waukesha Guitar Town Dedication party.
The musicians will perform during a private evening reception on May 31 at the Rotunda in historic downtown Waukesha where several of the playable Les Paul guitars will be auctioned off in person and online. A public event will be held during Freeman Friday Night Live the evening of June 1 in historic downtown Waukesha.

About the Musicians

Russ Les Paul, Jr.


The Rusty Paul Band features Les Paul’s son Rusty and perform blues, funk and rock music at a variety of locations and venues.





Les Paul Trio


The Les Paul Trio performs every Monday night at the Iridum, a popular jazz and rock club in New York. The Trio’s music pays homage to the music of Les Paul and often features guests like Ted Nugent, Jeff Beck, Zakk Wylde and Steve Miller.




Sammy Llanas


Sammy Llanas, a Waukesha native and former member of the BoDeans, is known for his distinctive music and is now a solo musician.